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The art of paper quilling has a long history going back many, many years. Also known as paper filigree, quilling began in the ancient world.
Over hundreds of years, the popularity of quilling grew and declined. Its most recent peak of popularity is happening right now! Let’s take a walk together and learn about the history of quilling.
Quilling in Ancient Egypt
There are many sources that claim that paper quilling originated in ancient Egypt. This is not exactly accurate. First, according to historians, Egypt did not have paper. What they had were papyrus sheets. Second, the evidence shows that the technique of quilling, also known as filigree, was practiced in Egypt. But this technique was, in fact, practiced with metal, not paper. There is even some evidence that metal filigree was practiced as far back as 5000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia!
Quilling in Renaissance Europe
The marriage of filigree and paper is agreed by historians to have started in the 15th century in Europe. There is a lot of beautiful quilled work from the Renaissance. During this period, quilling was practiced almost exclusively by French and Italian nuns. They would use rolled paper strips to decorate religious relics and holy artwork. The paper strips would often be gilded or silvered, making them almost indistinguishable from gold or silver filigree artwork. This was especially common in less affluent churches.
Quilling in the 18th and 19th Centuries
Quilling grew in popularity during the 18th and 19th centuries when it was practiced by affluent women. In a 1786 edition of the New Lady’s Magazine, Quilling was cited as a safe hobby for young women as “it affords an amusement to the female mind capable of the most pleasing and extensive variety; and at the same time, it conduces to fill up a leisure hour with an innocent recreation.” Quilling was even immortalized by Jane Austin in her first novel, Sense and Sensibility.
Quilling in the 21st Century
Today, as quilling has started to again grow in popularity, a new generation of artists have emerged with the aim of popularizing the art of quilling and making this beautiful art form accessible to the masses. Some quilling artists who have gained prominence in recent years are Yulia Brodskaya - a Russian born quilling artist who has emerged as a leading artist in the quilling community, Farah Al Fardh - an Emirati born artist who specializes in making whimsical 3-D quilling art, and Ann Martin - a well-known paper artist who specializes in quilled art and paper art for weddings. There are countless other DIY quilling enthusiasts who create beautiful artwork for the enjoyment of family and friends.
Our aspiration at Quilling Card is to share our love of this delicate fine art with the world and contribute to the enduring history of quilling. We truly love this art form and believe that others, who become familiar with it, will share this love as well.